UPDATED: The Norwegian government will shortly be signing an agreement enabling forced return of rejected Eritrean asylum seekers, according to reports.
Monday’s news comes just three days following officials’ announcement of a deal that enables Ethiopians’ voluntary repatriation, or later compulsory deportation.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have both advised against return.
Human rights organisations report widespread physical abuse of political opponents. A prominent Norwegian researchers classifies the country as “one of the most totalitarian and militarised in the world,” reports Klassekampen.
Amnesty Norge’s communications advisor, Ingvild Lyberg, says they are “highly critical” to the deal.
“We see people who have fled the country and applied for asylum in others are accused of active treason upon their return, which qualifies for jail. Eritrea is one of the world’s most closed countries. Authorities come down hard on all political dissidents and religious nonconformists, which includes extensive use of torture in prisons.”
Pål Lønnseth, Labour’s (Ap) Deputy Minister of Justice, will not reveal exactly when the agreement will be signed and sealed, but confirms discussions are taking place. He maintains forced deportation of refused Eritrean asylum seekers is legitimate for people who do not have a need for protection following assessment by Norwegian immigration officials.
Regarding the risk of being jailed for when returning, the Deputy Minister says, "That's for the immigration authority to judge. The Minstry of Justice will not be intervening saying everyone from a particular country will be given residence."
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